Every year when the two big North American endurance races are held — the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring — I try to publish the names of all the Canadian drivers who participate and list their finishing positions.
Last year, I printed the names of an even dozen Canucks who drove at Daytona (and this year’s race is only — gulp — three weeks away; where does the time go?). Top Canadian 12 months ago was Mark Wilkins of Toronto, who finished fifth overall. The twelfth name on the list was Mike Forest of Edmonton, who was 27th.
Turns out I missed somebody.
I was reading an online story yesterday about the entry list for this year’s Rolex 24 (as it’s now officially called) and came across this paragraph:
“Mühlner Motorsport has confirmed 20-year-old Dion von Moltke as the third driver of the No. 18 Porsche GT3 for the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona, joining Mark J. Thomas and Peter Ludwig.”
Okay, so what’s significant about that, you say?
Two paragraphs later, the story said this:
“The team earlier confirmed Canadian driver Thomas, who has been a regular for the Belgian team since 2008, competing successfully in the FIA GT3 European Championship and winning the 24h of Spa in 2008. In 2009 and 2010, Thomas drove for the team in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring Nordschleife and again in the 24 Hours of Spa. He has plenty of experience driving GT cars around the world, including the Rolex 24.”
And I'm reading this and I'm saying to myself: "Thomas Who?"
Turns out that Mark Thomas — who was born in St. Stephen, N.B. — raced Formula Fords in Canada after doing a Jim Russell School in 1985. But shortly thereafter, his real-world work took him overseas and he’s been employed internationally ever since. He’s currently vice-president, operations, for BP in Azerbaijan.
He drove in the Rolex last January — his first North American race in 20 years — and his team finished 33rd. I apologize for missing him and will make sure to include him in this year’s list.